Pixies at Thunderbird Arena

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A warm, late summer evening was the perfect backdrop for the co-headlining summer concert tour featuring Modest Mouse and the Pixies. With school back in session, the university grounds were full of people enjoying the sunshine while others were quickly making their way to UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre to find their seats.

As you entered the venue, there was an air of expectation and excitement for the evening ahead. The audience was comprised of a variety of characters; couples chatting at their seats, families donning their newly purchased Modest Mouse and Pixies t-shirts. While those in the pit up front were playing a game of “Keep Up” with balloons as they waited in anticipation.

As the arena lights dimmed  and the unmistakable strains of “Gouge Away” pierced the air. Black Francis’s haunting vocals cut through the airwaves like a siren’s call. The raw energy emanating from the stage was palpable, a testament to the enduring power of their music. The band journeyed through their illustrious discography, punctuated by the evergreen hits that have solidified their place in rock history. 

After one longer than usual pause in the music, Black Francis explained to the audience that the secret mic and earpiece that the band uses to talk to each other on stage to create their flow, had mysteriously stopped and that their “pantomime wasn’t working either.” With that quickly sorted, they continued playing like the professionals that they are. “Here Comes Your Man” was a resounding crowd-pleaser, while “Hey” had the audience singing along with intensity. A collective surge of emotion rippled through the crowd as the opening chords of “Where is My Mind?” reverberated through the venue. This seminal track, a beacon of 90s alternative rock had the crowd singing along with a chorus of voices that demonstrated their melancholic yearning for time past.

The Pixies then unveiled their showstopper – a cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong”. This unexpected yet masterful rendition paid homage to one of rock’s greatest pioneers while they also gave it a distinctive Pixies’ touch. Their set seamlessly wove together new material and the beloved classics, history and the present coming together as one. 

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